Since the entire hike is along the canyon floor, there's no strenuous elevation gain or loss, but hikers should be prepared to walk on variable footing, including stream crossings and dry washes, and occasionally navigate off-trail.
Time To Complete
The trail along the canyon floor is only about two miles each way, but it's often over uneven terrain and occasionally peters out entirely, so you won't be moving quickly. You won't want to rush it, anyway—it's more fun to let your imagination run wild in the natural playground on the canyon floor.
The towering red cliffs provide shade on even the hottest days, making Hunter Canyon a year-round destination. Be sure to check the forecast and avoid the canyon during and after thunderstorms (especially during the late spring runoff)—you don't want to be caught there in a flash flood.
Dogs are allowed on BLM land, but keep an eye out for critters—on warm days, there's a good chance of running across rattlesnakes.
There's no fee to use the trail, though there are excellent campsites available on a first-come, first-serve basis for $10/night. Note that the trail is open only to hikers; mountain bikes are not allowed.
During the sweltering desert summer, it’s tempting to stay inside and revel in the A/C, but you don’t have to miss out: nestled in the shade at the bottom of Kane Creek Road, Hunter Canyon offers a reprieve from the blistering heat and an opportunity for quiet, non-motorized recreation. (Go early or late in the day, when the canyon walls block the sun best.) Bonus: hike to a natural arch, sans the national park crowds. Not ready to brave the sizzling blacktop? Pay $10 to stay overnight at one of Hunter Creek’s dozen walk-up campsites.
What Makes It Great
The primitive trail leading up Hunter Canyon feels like a journey back in time. Imagine being on the lam from the law in the mid-nineteenth century—you’d head straight for Hunter Canyon. Follow the primitive trail for a half-mile or so, where it begins to fade in and out. Don’t worry about getting lost: the canyon walls guide you to a natural arch two miles in, and back to your car when you’re finished. There’s little elevation gain in Hunter Canyon, save for the occasional scramble over long-fallen boulders and slickrock, and the numerous stream crossings offer ample opportunity to cool hot feet on a sunny day.
As you near the end of your journey up the canyon, you’ll pass a series of clear, spring-fed pools. On a hot afternoon, you’ll likely be the only hiker there—you won’t need to resist the urge to strip down and hop in.
Who is Going to Love It
Since the trail stays solidly on the canyon floor and gains little elevation, Hunter Canyon is a super-approachable hike for all ages and levels of fitness. A little scrambling is occasionally required, but can be minimized for little ones or timid hikers. It also makes for a pleasant cooldown after running, climbing, or mountain biking in the Moab area.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From downtown Moab, head south on US-191/N Main Street. Take a right (west) on Kane Creek Boulevard (just before the Moab Brewery). Follow Kane Creek Boulevard for just shy of eight miles, first along the Colorado River, and eventually splitting off and heading down a series of tight switchbacks. Park at the Hunter Canyon BLM parking area (it'll be on the left).
Be sure to check the weather forecast before heading to Hunter Canyon, as the narrow canyon would be a bad place to be caught in a flash flood—not to mention the switchbacks on that section of Kane Creek Boulevard.